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Microsoft plays the Bing card

Microsoft has announced a new ‘decision engine’ to try and pull in a bigger slice of the online search market

Microsoft has showcased a new search engine, Bing, which will specifically focus on travel, shopping, health and local business results. The Redmond-based giant is marketing the new website as a ‘decision engine’ that provides more detailed information than standard search results. The service is not yet operational, with only a preview trailer available on the main Bing site.

“Today, search engines do a decent job of helping people navigate the Web and find information, but they don’t do a very good job of enabling people to use the information they find,” said Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO.

During the preview presentation, Microsoft demonstrates features such as putting in travel dates for a holiday and having Bing search for the cheapest flights available from airlines and online ticket websites. The feature is similar to existing ticket-scanning websites, though it is built directly into the search engine.

“When we set out to build Bing, we grounded ourselves in a deep understanding of how people really want to use the Web. Bing is an important first step forward in our long-term effort to deliver innovations in search that enable people to find information quickly and use the information they’ve found to accomplish tasks and make smart decisions,” added Ballmer.

Other elements of Bing were also previewed in the trailer, such as the ability to refine results for shopping items by price, local businesses by parking availability and the integration of user reviews and images into search results.

Ballmer presented the search engine to the All Things Digital conference in San Diego, which left a noticeable impression on Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.

“That was the most astounding software demo I've ever seen," Wozniak told Yahoo!’s Tech Ticker.

The world’s largest shrink-wrapped software company has its work cut out for it in terms of online market share. Microsoft’s MSN/Windows Live Search accounted for 9.9% of online searches in April, according to Nielson analytic data, with Yahoo sitting on 16.3% while Google posted a commanding 64%.

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